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Skywald Comics

Skywald Publications was a 1970s publisher of black-and-white comics magazines, primarily the horror anthologies Nightmare, Psycho, and Scream. It also published a small line of comic books and other magazines.

Skywald's first publication was Nightmare #1 (Dec. 1970). The company lasted through the end of 1974 or early 1975, with Psycho #24 (March 1975) its final publication. Nightmare published 23 issues and Scream put out 11 issues.

The company name is a combination of those of its founders, former Marvel Comics production manager Sol Brodsky ("Sky") and low-budget entrepreneur Israel Waldman ("wald"), whose I. W. Publications (also known as Super Comics) in the late 1950s and early 1960s published comic book reprints for sale through grocery and discount stores. Skywald was based in New York City.

Brodsky, who also served as editor, brought in Al Hewetson — briefly an assistant to Marvel chief Stan Lee and a freelancer for the Warren Publishing horror magazines and others — as a freelance writer. "Archaic Al", as he later jokingly called himself in print, quickly became the associate editor, and when Brodsky returned to Marvel after a few months, Hewetson succeeded him as editor. Under Hewetson, the horror magazines attempted a somewhat more literary bent than the twist-ending shockers of early Warren Publishing, the field's leader with such popular titles as Creepy and Eerie. Hewetson called this "the Horror-Mood", and sought to evoke the feel of such writers as Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and Kafka.

Comics professionals who produced work for the Skywald magazines include writers T. Casey Brennan, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Gardner Fox, Doug Moench, Dave Sim, Len Wein, and Marv Wolfman, and artists Rich Buckler, Gene Day, Vince Colletta, Bill Everett, Bruce Jones, Pablo Marcos, Syd Shores, Chic Stone, and Tom Sutton. Many who also contributed to rival Warren employed pseudonyms. Future industry star John Byrne published his first professional story, a two-pager written by editor Hewetson, in Skywald's Nightmare #20 (August 1974).

Skywald also produced two issues of the magazine Hell-Rider (Aug. & Oct. 1971), featuring a vigilante motorcyclist with a flamethrower-equipped bike. The character was created by Gary Friedrich (who would go on to co-create the Marvel motorcyclist Ghost Rider) with artists Ross Andru (penciler) and Mike Esposito (inker). Backup features were "The Butterfly" and "The Wild Bunch", both written by Friedrich, with art credits disputed by different sources for issue #1; the second-issue "Butterfly" story is credited to penciler Syd Shores and inker Esposito, the second "Wild Bunch" to penciler-inker Rich Buckler.

Another two-issue title, The Crime Machine, consisted solely of comic-book crime fiction reprints from the 1950s.[6] A remaining title, Science Fiction Odyssey, was planned for September 1971 publication, but withdrawn; some of its stories eventually appeared in the horror magazines.

The company also published a small number of magazines unrelated to horror or comics. Among these was Judy Garland (1970), a "special tribute issue".[7]

The short-lived color comic-book line, edited by Brodsky, comprised the Western titles Blazing Six-Guns, The Bravados, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, and Wild Western Action; the romance title Tender Love Stories; the horror series The Heap; and Jungle Adventures. These each were combinations of new material and reprints. Contributors, in addition to some of those noted above, include Dick Ayers, Mike Friedrich, Jack Katz, John Severin, and John Tartaglione. Notably, The Sundance Kid #1-2 (June-July 1971) contained Jack Kirby Western reprints from Bullseye #2-3 (Oct. & Dec. 1954). None of the comics lasted more than three issues.

Skywald's End: Editor Al Hewetson, in an interview given shortly before his death of a heart attack on Jan. 6, 2004, asserted the demise of Skywald was caused by "...Marvel's distributor. Our issues were selling well, and some sold out. Such returns as we received were shipped overseas, mainly to England, where they sold out completely. ... When Marvel entered the game with countless [black-and-white horror] titles gutting [sic] the newsstand, their distributor was so powerful they denied Skywald access to all but the very largest newsstands, so our presence was minimal and fans and readers simply couldn't find us. ... The Waldmans [Israel and business manager Hershel Waldman] and I had a business lunch with our distributor in the fall of '74 and we were given very specific information about the state of affairs on the newsstands — which had nothing to do with Warren's or Skywald’s solid readership base."

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Skywald Comics
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